A master of light verse, Frederic Ogden Nash was born in America. Not only did the elements of humor and wit in his poetry make him popular, Nash’s outrageous liberty of using English Language earned him recognition. He has been regarded one amongst the English-language poets who gained excessive success commercially in the twentieth century. Nash sold his first verse to “The New Yorker” in 1930, on whose staff he worked. His bold, quotable verse that was styled with surprising puns, rhymes and stanzas brought in the comic element in the poetries. Nash also wrote several children's books and lyrics for the musicals. During the 1940s and '50s, he was a common guest on television game shows and remained a famous lecturer throughout his career. When he died in 1971, the New York Times quoted “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country's best-known producer of humorous poetry”. Nash’s one of the best-known poems is “Reflections on Ice-Breaking”. Amongst the books, “Hard Lines” (1931), “I'm a Stranger Here Myself” (1938) and “Everyone but Thee and Me” (1962) are quite popular.
Ogden Nash Childhood & Early Life
Nash was born inRye, New York on August 19, 1902. His father was the owner and operator of an import-export company. Due to his father’s business obligations, the family often used to relocate from one place to another. Nash graduated from St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, after which he enrolled himself in the Harvard University in 1920. But as his family was facing financial crisis, he left the University just a year later. Nash taught in St. George's for one year, but left the same to find some other job. Nash took up random jobs during this time from being a bond salesman on Wall Street to an advisor. It was only by the course of time in 1925 that Nash gained the position as an editor at Doubleday publishing house. It was there that he first commenced to write poetry. Initially, Nash attempted to write serious verse in the style of the eighteenth-century Romantic poets, but shortly gave up the idea. He preferred to write comic verse and this helped Nash and his friend named Joseph Alger to work together to complete a 1925 children's book, “The Cricket of Carador.” A few years later, he teamed up with two Doubleday colleagues to create “Born in a Beer Garden; or, She Troupes to Conquer.” The book made fun of classic literature. Nash produced a poem “Spring Comes to Murray Hill” and submitted it to the New Yorker in 1930. This marked the beginning of Nash’s association with the magazine, as he was welcomed to submit more poems. As such, he became a frequent poet in the magazine which took him towards publication of his first collection of poems “Hard Lines” in 1931. The work gained instant success with seven printings of it being published in the first year itself. What’s more, this excellent work of Nash earned him national recognition too. It is believed that some of the poems of Nash gave a glimpse of an anti-establishment touch. Nash shortly quit his Doubleday job and shifted to Baltimore, Maryland. He resided mostly in the city from 1934 until his death as he took Baltimore as his home. After he returned from his short move to New York, he wrote “I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more”. Being in New York, he worked initially as a writer of the streetcar card ads for a firm. His childhood passion for rhyme only deepened with time as he then started constructing his own words whenever rhyming words were not available.
The times when he was not indulged in writing poems, Nash used to give regular appearances on television comedy shows and radio shows. He even traveled throughout United States and England to give lectures at various colleges and universities. He was remarked with great respect by the literary establishment and though his works were humorous in nature, they were often anthologized in serious collections as well, one example of this being Selden Rodman's 1946 A New Anthology of Modern Poetry. Nash also played a role as a lyricist for the Broadway musical “One Touch of Venus,” in collaboration with librettist S. J. Perelman and composer Kurt Weill. The show comprised of notable and famous song “Speak Low". Nash was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1950. In 1950s, he wrote mostly for the children such as “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus”, “Custard the Dragon” and “Girls are Silly”. Nash also worked for television production. He suffered from a number of illnesses in his later years. During this time, he penned many poems about the medical establishments which were later collected in 1970's “Bed Riddance: A Posy for the Indisposed.” Nash also wrote the lyrics for the revue “Two’s Company” in 1952. Nash and his deep love for the football team, Baltimore Colts was displayed in the 13th December, 1968 edition of “Life”. In the same, he included large number poems about the American football team combined with full-page pictures. His work titled “My Colts, Verses and Reverses”, contained most of his poems and photographs by Arthur Rickerby. The book declared Nash the league leading writer of light verse who lived in Baltimore and loved the Colts. He was further described as “a fanatic of the Baltimore Colts, and a gentleman”. Among his countless works, most popular writings were a series of animal verses, most of which displayed Nash’s off-kilter rhyming devices.
Nash married Frances Leonard in 1931. The couple had two daughters. One of his daughters Isabel was married to famous photographer Fred Eberstadt. His granddaughter named Fernanda Eberstadt is a renowned author.
Nash died on May 19, 1971 of Crohn's disease at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was buried in North Hampton, New Hampshire's East Side Cemetery.